When you're in a dysfunctional relationship with someone who is manipulative or an alcoholic/addict, you may find yourself repeatedly in a conflict that you were determined to avoid! Then once again you feel anger, anxiety, or depression. "What happened?" you ask yourself. "How can I be here again?"
Alcoholics/addicts and manipulative personalities know how to fish. Any good fisherman takes a tackle box full of extra hooks, lures, lines, and sinkers. Upon arriving at the lake, the fisherman attaches a hook and the lure he thinks the fish will like best. After a while, if the fish aren't biting on the first lure, the fisherman changes the bait. He changes the bait until he finds something the fish will bite or he gives up. So it can be with conflict-ridden relationships.
Years ago I was dating a man who bought a house. The house was mostly empty except for a few bare essentials in furniture. He commented that he needed to get more furniture and some things for his house. I offered to go furniture shopping with him but he rejected the offer. I argued for a while, trying to get my way, but he adamantly rejected the idea. My feelings were hurt but I accepted what he wanted.
A couple of weeks later we repeated the pattern. He started talking about decorating his house and invited me to discuss it. I offered to help him. He rejected the offer. We argued until I gave up. Again my feelings were hurt.
The next time he invited me to the house decorating discussion, I kept silent. He continued the dialog by himself and I just listened. For a moment he was confused but kept talking about buying furniture.
After a while, he changed the subject to something I couldn't resist - picking out art. He asked for my opinion. Excitedly, I jumped from where I was sitting to the love seat, where I could sit close to him. I offered to help him. He firmly said, "no." I was stunned, hurt, and speechless.
He changed the bait! He was so clever that he changed it to something I couldn't resist. I swallowed the lure like an eager fish. All he had to do was reel me in.
What is the solution? Don't expect a fisherman to quit fishing. That's what he does. Just become a smarter, less hungry fish.
Photo courtesy of Bob Jagendorf on Flicker.com